Yes, this is all true.

But I think the subtle point she was making — and which subsequently took me down this rabbit hole of thinking about it — was that, look, you get the paper and you kinda know what you’re going to get. It is a utility in that it arrives on time, gives you some information, and on you go.

That’s why, I suppose, anyone subscribed to newspapers in the first place.

But online these days, at least at the mass level, you kinda don’t know what you’re going to get minute to minute, day to day. I mean, by and large the New York Times is the same exact thing it was 100 years ago. And whether you read a book on a Kindle or you read in paperback, it’s still a book.

Which, all things considered, may be a larger issue. That’s another subject, I think.

The internet, however you break it down, is far less static than anything else. It seems to have gone through about a billion iterations thus far when it comes to content. And I’m not sure the experience for the average person is yet one where they can say, ah, you know, good ol’ internet! Right on time with the good stuff.

If you were to look at something like a magazine, say the New Yorker, as a curator — hey, here is what’s interesting! — the whole experience with it is far less active than that which exists online. You just sit back and the magazine comes to you. Which, I guess is the reason people pay for it.

Online, you have to go looking for it first. It’s like interest > action > information > maybe not the information you were looking for > shit, why did I even waste my time with this?

Or, you’re passively receiving things people are sharing with you, which goes something like: no interest > someone else’s action > some interest > action > maybe not information you really care about > shit, why did I even waste my time with this?

I’m just saying — the internet, at least for reading, has not proven to be that reliable. It’s good. Pretty good. Better than most things. But there is something to be said for that passivity, that desire on the part of others to just sit back and let the media come to you. It’s proven to work.

Obviously there is tons of good stuff online and a reasonably intelligent person can find it fairly quickly, but yes, when there is so much stuff to look at, maybe just getting anyone to look at anything will remain difficult.

Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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